Everyone wishes Mondays would just disappear.
The one exception to this sentiment is Cyber Monday.
The day holds its own against the big players in the holiday shopping calendar.
As an online retailer, Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping days for OneDayOnly.
In preparation, the daily deals site hit their best ever sales figures on Black Friday 2016, which put immense pressure on their servers and customer service team.
Pressure and servers aside, Black Friday proved to be exactly what Monday ordered.
Key learnings from the day should help Cyber Monday to up its game and may even end up showing Black Friday who’s boss.
OneDayOnly opened its doors to let us in on the behind the scenes with a blow by blow of their Black Friday happenings.
If you’re a Techie or a shopaholic, your screen is about to get sticky.
Blow by blow
As usual, OneDayOnly send out their daily newsletter at 6am.
It went through without a hitch, but then the craziness started.
In the next thirty minutes, they witnessed visitor numbers slowly rising to levels three to four times that of a “regular” day.
By 8am, they had sold more items than they did on Black Friday 2015.
Despite unprecedented traffic, everything was still working fine.
By 10 o’clock, they had been under this extreme load for four hours, and their servers were starting to show it.
At 10:30, the server cluster hit their greatest load.
In fact, it was nearly bottoming out as South Africa’s banks started struggling to handle the sheer number of payments being processed across the country.
As a result, some customers experienced time-outs while making payments and completing their orders.
This would prove to be the biggest source of questions and complaints.
As South Africa’s banking system slowed down and heavily discounted items started selling out, a mild panic set in.
OneDayOnly’s Customer Service agents had their work cut out for them.
When payment processes started slowing down, customers naturally contacted OneDayOnly to see what’s going on and whether payments are successful and orders secure.
In most cases these payments were successful, but receiving a mountain of questions makes it difficult to keep everybody updated in time.
If we MUST get technical
OneDayOnly’s website started out as a “regular” Magento shop, but it has since been tweaked, altered, hacked, up- and downgraded to suit OneDayOnly specific needs.
To prepare for Black Friday, the survival strategy included limiting staff access to core administration areas, applying more caching than normal and offloading static file serving to CloudFlare – reducing requests to OneDayOnly’s server cluster by 97%.
An additional server was commissioned for the sole purpose of running cron jobs, reporting, administrative interfaces and other tasks that cannot be cached.
Another dedicated server running as a Redis machine to keep HTML served happily.
Together, this would prove to be barely sufficient and kept the website alive on Friday.
Today will see a very similar challenge.
Seeing many of South Africa’s biggest online shops go offline every year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will continue to challenge developers for years to come.
On the upside, days like these push development forward and advance the limits of what online shops can handle.